Young adults in Ellis County, who are struggling to see education beyond high school as an option, can now do so with the help of the new Texas State Technical College North Texas Industrial Technology Center, said Alan Hugley, Red Oak Mayor.

Hugley, along with Jim Rowland, provost for TSTC North Texas; Red Oak High School students; Michael Reeser, TSTC system chancellor and Red Oak ISD administrators, broke ground on the new center Friday. The center will be located behind Red Oak High School.

Once the discussion of plans got underway, he asked his wife what she saw the essence and purpose of the center being, and that it didn’t take her long to find the answer, Hugley said.

“She works with a bunch of mostly high school age kids, kids that economically are not necessarily in great shape, and not a lot of opportunities for them. They may not be the most academic, and so they kind of approach things there toward the end of high school and all with a down attitude,” he said. “But she said some of these kids are really excited about this, since they first heard about it.”

The $10 million, 102,000-square-foot technical education facility will allow people to get a technical degree for about $8,000, Reeser said.

“One of the kids said to her, ‘Let those other kids go to college, and get a fancy degree,’” Hugley said. “’The day their air-conditioner breaks down, I’m going to fix it. And that day, I’ll be as important as anybody.’ There’s nothing we do as educators that is more important than helping a new generation of young people find their way to a future they can believe in and grow in.”

Red Oak ISD administrators and TSTC administrators said they were happy that the process to get to groundbreaking point of the first building in less than a year after discussions started. On Oct. 16, 2013, the TSTC Foundation agreed to fund the construction of the building on the property deeded from Red Oak ISD in Ellis County and entered into a lease arrangement with TSTC, according to a press release.

“This thing came together with the help of an awful lot of people,” Reeser said. “And virtually, everyone of you have fingerprints on it.”

In his more than 21 years of serving in legislature, Jim Pitts, a republican in the Texas State House of Representatives, said the TSTC building coming to fruition has been the highlight of his career.

“It’s about the opportunities that we’re giving, right here in Ellis County, for our citizens,” Pitts said.

The center is expected to provide an education for young adults, or anyone who wants to learn about opportunities in a technical field, for years to come, officials said.